Alpha Chi Omega (ΑΧΩ, also known as Alpha Chi or A Chi O) is a national women's fraternity founded at DePauw Universtiy in 1885. As of 2023, it has more than 140 active collegiates and 170 active alumnae chapters in the United States and has initiated more than 300,000 members. Alpha Chi Omega is a member of the National Panhellenic Conference.

Alpha Chi Omega
FoundedOctober 15, 1885; 138 years ago (1885-10-15)
DePauw University, (Greencastle, Indiana)
MottoTogether let us seek the heights
TaglineReal. Strong. Women.
Colors  Scarlet red   Olive green[1]
SymbolGolden lyre
FlowerRed carnation
Patron Greek divinityHera
PublicationThe Lyre
PhilanthropyDomestic Violence Awareness
Chapters140+ collegiate, 170+ alumnae
Members300,000+ lifetime
Headquarters5939 Castle Creek Parkway North Dr.
Indianapolis, Indiana 46250
United States

History edit

Alpha chapter at Depauw University, 1885

In the fall of 1885, James Hamilton Howe, the first dean of the Music School at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, invited seven women from the school to a meeting to form a fraternity.[2][3] Those women were Anna Allen Smith, Olive Burnett Clark, Bertha Deniston Cunningham, Amy DuBois Rieth, Nellie Gamble Childe, Bessie Grooms Keenan, and Estelle Leonard.[2] Alpha Chi Omega was formed on October 15, 1885.[2][3]

Howe collaborated with James G. Campbell, a Beta Theta Pi, to establish Alpha Chi Omega as a national fraternity. Campbell laid out its first constitution and by-laws. According to this first constitution, "The object of this fraternity attain the highest musical culture and to cultivate those principles that embody true womanhood."[4] On February 26, 1886, the fraternity hosted a musical soiree to introduce itself to the campus community.[4]

In its early years, Alpha Chi Omega was considered to be a professional music society and its members were music majors.[5][6] Later, the minimum membership requirement became registration in any music course.[4]

In 1889, a national literary fraternity offered to merge with Alpha Chi Omega; however, unlike typical professional fraternities, Alpha Chi never considered admitting members of other fraternities.[4] In 1900, the fraternity added literary qualifications, which led to it being considered a general (social) fraternity by 1905.[7]

Alpha Chi Omega joined the National Panhellenic Conference in 1903.[8][9]

Symbols edit

Alpha Chi Omega's founders chose Alpha (Α), the first letter of the Greek alphabet because they were forming the first fraternity in the school of music. Since they thought they might also be founding the last such fraternity, Omega (Ω) seemed appropriate, considering it stands for the end. "Kai", meaning "and", was added to form "the beginning and the end". "Kai" was soon changed to Chi (Χ), a letter of the Greek alphabet.[2]

Alpha Chi Omega's colors of scarlet red and olive green were chosen to commemorate the fraternity's fall founding.[10] Its flower is a red carnation, which exemplifies the fraternity's colors, and its tree is the holly.[11] Its patron Greek divinity is Hera.

Alpha Chi Omega chose the three-stringed lyre to be their official symbol since it was the first instrument played by the Greek gods on Mount Olympus.[12] The badge (pin) worn by initiated members is in the shape of a lyre, typically featuring pearls and the Greek letters ΑΧΩ on the crossbar. Although Alpha Chi Omega no longer is strictly a musical fraternity, it is still connected to its musical heritage through the symbol of the lyre, and the name of its publication is The Lyre.

The new member badge (pin) worn by uninitiated members is a lozenge emblazoned with the symbol of a lyre and the sorority's colors of scarlet red on the upper half of the badge, and olive green on the lower half of the badge.[13]

The founders of Alpha Chi Omega

Activities edit

Members of Alpha Chi Omega have several national programs.

  • Founders' Day – Sisters gather on October 15 of each year to recognize the fraternity's fall founding at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Members wear their badges, along with scarlet and olive green ribbons.[14]
  • MacDowell Month – Every February, Alpha Chi Omega women celebrate the fine arts and their fine arts heritage. Most collegiate chapters encourage members to attend and perform in fine art events during this month. This celebration was named for the MacDowell artists colony in New Hampshire, the fraternity's first philanthropic effort.[14]
  • Local Founding Days – Each collegiate chapter recognizes its founding anniversary annually.
  • National Convention – Members join together every two years to conduct fraternity business, reunite with sisters, and celebrate the fraternity.
  • Hera Day – Sisters honor the fraternity's patron goddess Hera by dedicating themselves on March 1 of each year to aid the happiness and overall well-being of others through volunteering and fundraising for domestic violence shelters in their communities.[15]

Philanthropy edit

Beginnings of philanthropy edit

In 1911, Alpha Chi Omega began supporting the MacDowell Colony, founded by Marian MacDowell who was an Alpha Chi Omega alumna[16] During World War I and World War II, the fraternity helped orphaned French children and provided day nurseries for working mothers who were married to servicemen. In 1947, Alpha Chi Omega adopted Easter Seals as its national philanthropy and supported other projects associated with cerebral palsy.[16]

National philanthropy edit

In 1992, the fraternity adopted supporting victims of domestic violence as its primary national philanthropy.[17][18] As of 2018, Alpha Chi Omega is partnered with Mary Kay, The Allstate Foundation's Purple Purse, The One Love Foundation, RAINN, and It's On Us.[17] The fraternity also supports Kristin's Story in cooperation with Delta Delta Delta, a nonprofit set up by the Delta Delta Delta mother of an Alpha Chi Omega member who committed suicide following a sexual assault.[19]

Undergraduate and alumnae chapters focus on increasing the awareness of domestic violence and its effects, and on aiding victims of domestic violence through activities, service projects, and financial support. This work is done through local agencies, such as rape crisis centers, emergency shelters and safe houses for victims of domestic violence and their children, and long-term assistance centers for battered women in the United States.[20]

Foundation edit

In 1978, the fraternity created the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation, a nonprofit organization to oversee funds for the fraternity's philanthropic projects and educational programming.[16] The foundation which continues to grant funds to the fraternity's former partners, the MacDowell Colony and Easter Seals.[18] The foundation supports members and those closely related to Alpha Chi Omegas through various grants.[21]

Membership edit

The fraternity has initiated more than 300,000 members to its collegiate and alumnae chapters since 1885.[22]

Chapters edit

Alpha Chi Omega has chartered more than 194 chapters at colleges and universities and 279 alumnae chapters in the United States.[3] Alumnae chapters allow women of post-graduate age to continue the mission and values of Alpha Chi Omega. Collegiate chapters work directly with alumnae chapters to link sisters across the country. As of 2023, there are 140 active collegiate and 170 active alumnae chapters.[23]

Notable members edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Alpha Chi Omega Symbols and traditions
  2. ^ a b c d "About ΑΧΩ". Alpha Chi Omega. Archived from the original on 2008-04-24. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
  3. ^ a b c William Raimond Baird; Carroll Lurding (eds.). "Almanac of Fraternities and Sororities (Baird's Manual Online Archive), showing Alpha Chi Omega chapters". Student Life and Culture Archives. University of Illinois: University of Illinois Archives. Retrieved 30 December 2021. The main archive URL is The Baird's Manual Online Archive homepage.
  4. ^ a b c d Armstrong, Florence A.; Mabel Harriet Siller (1922). History of Alpha Chi Omega Fraternity (1885–1921) (3 ed.). Alpha Chi Omega Fraternity.
  5. ^ Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities (5 ed.). 1898.
  6. ^ Stevens, Albert C. (1899). The cyclopædia of fraternities, a compilation of existing authentic information and the results of original investigation as to more than six hundred secret societies in the United States. New York city, Paterson, N.J., Hamilton printing and publishing company. p. 347. OL 23292199M. Alpha Chi Omega– Professional (Music) Society
  7. ^ Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities (6 ed.). 1905.
  8. ^ "Alpha Chi Omega". Retrieved 2022-12-03.
  9. ^ "Our Member Organizations". National Panhellenic Conference. Retrieved 2018-05-10.
  10. ^ "Alpha Chi Omega – About Us". Archived from the original on 2016-03-23. Retrieved 2016-03-16.
  11. ^ Becque, Fran (28 March 2023). "Alta Allen Loud, Alpha Chi Omega". Fraternity History & More. Retrieved 28 March 2023.
  12. ^ Alpha Chi Omega
  13. ^ "New member pin | Chi Omega, Alpha chi, Alpha chi omega". Pinterest. Retrieved 2020-04-24.
  14. ^ a b "Symbols and Traditions". Alpha Chi Omega. 12 October 2018.
  15. ^ "Symbols and Traditions". Retrieved 2022-12-03.
  16. ^ a b c "About Chi Omega Foundation History". Alpha Chi Omega. Archived from the original on 2008-06-15. Retrieved 2007-12-28.
  17. ^ a b "DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS". Alpha Chi Omega. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Foundation [ Domestic Violence ]". 2007-06-07. Archived from the original on 2007-06-07. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  19. ^ Kristin's Story
  20. ^ "Our Philanthropy (Georgia Tech chapter)". Retrieved 2023-03-25.
  21. ^ "Alpha Chi Omega Foundation". Alpha Chi Omega. Archived from the original on 2007-08-11. Retrieved 2007-12-28.
  22. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 2022-12-03.
  23. ^ "About Us". Alpha Chi Omega. 25 March 2023.